An introduction to higher education PR

I work in higher education PR. I don’t go to grad school for PR as some of my friends think I do.

I have been working in higher education PR for two years and I still get questions from outsiders about what I do. Since some people don’t understand, I thought I would provide an overview of what a higher Ed PR practitioner does. Please remember, this is a general overview and everyone’s position is different. So here’s a run down:

·  Media Relations: Higher education institutions often provide faculty expert sources for the media. Students have newsworthy initiatives going on. How does your institution compare with the latest trends? Whether it’s fulfilling a request or pitching, media relations can be a large part of a pros job. Developing relationships with higher Ed reporters is key.

·  Monitoring: Monitor articles that were published and monitor the breaking news. Monitoring breaking news falls under media relations, one thing leads to another. As a PR pro you need to be in front of the news so you can leverage your professor or school’s expertise and provide sources for the media. Have multiple experts available that can talk about different angles on the same topic, why not create a media tip sheet?

·  Crisis Communication: Swine Flu? Death on campus? Shooting? The PR pro should play a large part of your institutions emergency response management team. You hope none of the above ever happens, but you must be prepared.

·  Media Training: Sure your professor can speak academic, but can they (or you) translate their work and apply it to current events?

·  Internal and external writing: Obviously writing is a part of a PR pros job. Press releases, internal newsletters, magazines, editorials, HR communications, web articles, rankings communications and byline articles are samples of the type of writing. You may also have to write fundraising letters and grants depending on your position.

·  Social Media: You may be asked to create and maintain a strategic social media plan for your institution.

Depending on the institution and budget, you may have marketing or event responsibilities as well. Every day brings on a new task. Higher Ed PR is rewarding. We don’t put out fluff or spam (most of us don’t). We help promote thought leadership. And that is one of my favorite things about higher Ed PR.

I barely grazed the surface with this post. Want to know more about higher Ed PR pro? Leave me a comment, e-mail me or Tweet me.

8 Responses to “An introduction to higher education PR”

  1. Rachel Esterline - June 11th, 2009

    Great intro to higher education PR. My first internship was in higher ed and I learned so much. The experience I gained helped me get my current agency internship. Higher ed PR is a great way to gain a broad spectrum of experience.


    admin Reply:


    I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Higher ed PR is great and I’l always willing to chat about it. Good luck in your current internship.



  2. Erin - November 8th, 2009

    I’m a PR major and I am writing a feature story on higher education PR so this article really helped me out with what it is and what one does who is in this field.


    BrianCamen Reply:

    Glad I can help. Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions .


  3. amy - March 25th, 2010

    I’m wondering what PR can do when dealing with finacial issues in higher Ed?


  4. Kris - July 6th, 2010

    looking for best practices ideas about how my campus (read: faculty and administrators) can best use the services of the PR department. Need something original, “zingy” that will get them excited about promoting their programs/services.


    BrianCamen Reply:

    Hey Kris,

    It seems like you need to create a system where faculty is more aware of your capabilities. One thing that always worked was sending out a roundup of news at the end of the week (or month) about your school. Faculty will see their colleagues quote and it will lead them to also want to get involved. I’m happy to go into more details if you want. Feel free to e-mail me.


  5. Jade O'Dell - August 25th, 2010


    I am currently embarking on a final year project based on PR and Web 2.0 in Higher Education, and its uses to recruit and retain students at my particular institution. I am in research stages at the moment, and wondered if there were any particular authors or literature you would recommend I read? Thank you!


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